The administration still has the power to control leadership enrichment programs.
By Zachary-Taylor Wright
The board of trustees voted unanimously to remove any mention of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” in Policy B.9.1 at the Dec. 13 meeting.
This was decided in an effort to satisfy recommendations on the autonomy of three colleges that has been called into question by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
SACSCOC found six violations of their list of comprehensive standards for accreditation at this college and St. Philip’s and Northwest Vista colleges during a visit in September.
District 8 trustee Clint Kingsbery began the Policy and Long-Range Planning Committee meeting Dec. 13 by asking the board to table the motion on Policy B.9.1 until the board had spoken to the SACSCOC liaison to ensure Standard 3.4.10 is met.
SACSCOC’s Standard 3.4.10 states that faculty should be primarily responsible for determining curriculum for a college to be autonomous, which is one of the six faults SACSCOC found after their visit to the three colleges.
Kingsbery said he is concerned removing the Covey material from the portion of Policy B.9.1 explicitly directing instructors how to teach classes would not be enough to meet SACSCOC’s recommendations.
“I have no particular concern with the policy itself,” Kingsbery said. “Only that we are trying to do it before we have spoken with SACS.”
District 6 trustee Gene Sprague said information from SACSCOC is not going to be available until their first biannual meeting in June, making Kingsbery’s desired communication with SACSCOC unobtainable.
“I think we’re just going to have to be a little bold here and take a step forward,” Sprague said.
District 1 trustee Joe Alderete seconded this notion, saying the board has no way of knowing if they have the right answer until they submit new policy.
District 2 trustee Denver McClendon said the board should strike mention of Covey from both the student and faculty side, saying there should be no mention of Covey materials in district policy at all.
“I don’t want any concept that we are still trying to backdoor and accept the Covey principles,” McClendon said.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the board may strike the material from policy entirely, leaving faculty to decide what leadership material will be used to determine a “single, districtwide leadership program … that ensures PK-16 alignment across the five Alamo Colleges.”
Leslie said administration will still possess the power to determine what leadership program to employ in the district’s employee leadership enrichment programs.
The board motioned to vote on removing all mention of Covey materials from the student and faculty portions of policy, and the board unanimously voted to strike all mentions of the material.
This decision comes shortly after the release of an anonymous Covey no-confidence petition circulating at this college. The petition claims the “7 habits” materials violate Title VII and the Texas Statues for religious freedom.
According to the petition, Leslie’s determination to incorporate Covey materials across the district is in violation of SACSCOC’s Standard 3.2.4, which states educational governing boards must not be influenced by religious or political bodies and may not impose such influences on the institutions they serve.
The petition seeks the removal of any mention of Covey materials in board policy, stating “faculty at these institutions have been coerced by verbal threats of insubordination if they don’t adhere to the New Age religious ideas of Covey leadership training.”
The petition states grievances with Covey’s outdated material, the failure of administration to remove all mention of the material in previous board meetings and the influence of non-educational theory on curriculum.
The petition refers to Covey materials as a “self-help book.”
To learn more about the petition, view the petition here.
To view the board’s changes to Policy B.9.1, see the policy here.